Many accidents are reported to have occurred during the filming of The Crow, but one stands out from the others - the one that caused the death of Brandon Lee. Several explainations have been put forward as to the exact circumstances of Brandon's death. Some say it was a freak accident, some say incompetence (on the part of several people) was to blame, and some even say it was murder...
So which scene was being filmed at the time?
Filming was taking place in the loft set (Eric and Shelley's apartment). The scene in question is near the beginning of the film, when T-Bird, Funboy and the others 'pay Eric & Shelley a visit' and kill Eric. Funboy (Michael Massee) points a gun at Eric and fires. The shot injures Brandon Lee who later died of his injuries. The camera is on Funboy throughout the gunshot. It's possible that Funboy taking the shot was re-filmed, but the shot that was seen to be fired in the film is probably the one that killed Brandon. There was also a camera behind Funboy, filming Brandon. The film shot by this camera (and any others that could see Brandon) was destroyed without being developed. There were eight days of filming left to complete when Brandon was killed, mostly involving the loft set. The majority of this was completed using digital effects. (see the Trivia/Production page - the 'Life After Death' section).
An article in Martial Arts Illustrated' (Feb '95) describes the incident thus:
"A few minutes before the fatal scene where Brandon Lee was shot, the actor Michael Massee (who played Funboy) pointed the actual .44 Magnum at Lee in order to save time. After these trial scenes, the man in charge of accessories (the 'propsmaster'), 'Mr. X', filled the Magnum with blanks, but forgot to check the barrel. (Apparently, the armsmaster whose job this was, was away from the set for the day).
Now, a few days earlier, not having any such blanks, a DIY guy had emptied out real bullets to use in their place. When fired, a light detonation, due to the remainder of powder, forced a piece of cartridge into the barrel, henceforth it blocked. As nobody took the trouble to check and clean the gun, it was in this state that the .44 Magnum came to be used in the scene.
The cameras started rolling: Michael Massee takes up his position a short distance away from Brandon; too short, as all the professionals will tell you, as a blank fired at a few metres can cause serious damage. Added to this, Michael Massee, off balance, fired right at Brandon instead of aiming just above his shoulders. When the shot was fired, the sound was deafening, the powder from the blanks violently thrust the cartridge in Brandon Lee's direction. As planned, the star pushed at that instant, the button on the detonator releasing the blood sacks he was wearing. Seriously injured as the scene dictated, Brandon Lee/Eric Draven drags himself along the floor whilst the actor David Patrick Kelly (T-Bird) hurls abuse at him. As a result of the tension created by the scene, nobody yet suspected the accident. There was a general feeling that if Brandon Lee wasn't following the plan precisely it was due to the fact that he was a great actor, that he improvised. Less than a minute later everyone became aware of the 'hitch' without realising, as yet, just how serious it was."
For the record, the actor Michael Massee was deemed not responsible for Brandon Lee's death and no criminal charges were ever brought against him.
Other reports on the death of Brandon Lee exist, including one that says that the bullet in the gun was simply a live one, instead of a blank... whatever happened, his death will probably always be shrouded in mystery.
The accident happened at 12:30 am on 31st March. The shot had perforated Lee's stomach, tearing several vital organs and causing an internal haemorrhage. Brandon Lee died in hospital at 1.03 pm on 31st March 1993 (12 1/2 hours after the accident). Cause of death is listed as G.S.W. (gunshot wound) of the abdomen. Brandon is buried with his father, Bruce Lee, at Lakeview Cemetary, Seattle, Washington, near the Seattle Asian Museum. Documentation relating to Brandon Lee's death.
Other incidents that occurred during the filming of The Crow include the following:
On the very first day of filming (Feb. 1st), a young carpenter suffered serious burns on his face, hands and chest. He had been sitting on a metal girder that collided with high tension power lines. A sculptor lost his pedals and was slammed into the steering wheel of his car. (Other reports say that a 'disgruntled sculptor' drove his car through the studio's plaster shop - well, something happened, anyway). A manual worker got a screwdriver embedded in his hand. A lorry full of equipment mysteriously set on fire. The production's press attache was a victim of a traffic accident. A stuntman fell through a roof, breaking several ribs. A hurricane destroyed several of the film's sets. (March 13th) This list appeared in the American magazine Entertainment Weekly on the 2nd of April, barely forty-eight hours after Brandon Lee's death. The magazine was published on the very day of the tragedy and the author of the article entitled 'Bird of Ill Omen' had no idea of what was to follow...